Yoga as a practice is a complete system targeting physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Often we fluctuate between which levels or areas we work on depending on where we are in our personal journey. For me, some days it is a largely mental practice, whereas other days the physicality takes over. Nevertheless, the practice always works for me where I need it to. Which consistently involves getting out of my head and just doing
the practice, thereby allowing it to work. Yoga can help heal mental illness and afflictions, but not without first showing us the thought patterns that have come to afflict the
mind. These patterns may have been inherited from childhood or otherwise, and are difficult to change. Some thoughts are reflections of intuition. Yesterday my intuition told me to see an acupuncturist to treat a lingering hamstring injury. This intuitive knowing appeared as a mental thought, instructing me to do something (schedule the appointment).However, many of our thoughts are cyclical streams clouding the mind, or can even be a toxic tax on our wellbeing. Examples of the first type include thoughts revolving around external distractions like grocery and to do lists, fixing pant straps, or what other people are doing on their mats.
The latter, more toxic thoughts include conditioned responses that circulate during practice such as not being good enough, because of an inability to achieve certain
postures, among a host of other harmful thoughts that do not serve our growth.
Through first noticing these mental thoughts when they occur in daily practice, and then working through them (including off the mat—see list below), we can ultimately change the internal dialogue and messaging that occurs, growing in consciousness and working to release the toxicity that has silently crept inside the mind. During practice, when these and other thoughts arise, we can choose to lightly, without judgment, notice the thinking mind, and then instead focus on the breath and the sensation in the body, thus
returning to the practice once again. Specific practices that can help to reframe the mind, outside of yoga, include (but are not limited to):
•Meditation. There are many forms of meditation that can be helpful. I suggest exploring different lineages and avenues inorder to find what works best for you.
•Emotional Freedom Techniques (i.e., Tapping)
•Art -painting, cooking, dance, etc.
•Movement—including going for walks
•Expressing gratitude. Writing down daily gratitudes as well as self love lists
•Being in community and having a safe, open space in which to discuss what may be arising
The above are practices that have worked for me, but are by no means a prescriptive to do list. First and foremost, the most important thing is simply to practice yoga.
Mental repatterning takes a lot of work. And the work stems from consistently engaging in the physical practice of yoga as a form of moving meditation. So pay attention to the intuitive voice inside (however small) that tells you to go to yoga class, and allow that
voice to matter more than the unconscious thinking voice, which will come up with a million and a half reasons not to practice. One of the most fundamental decisions I have made allowing me to strengthen and deepen my yoga practice was signing up for a 200
hour yoga teacher training program. Doing so was the direct result of listening to my intuition and taking a necessary leap of faith.
There are upcoming opportunities to sign up for teacher trainings in Bali and India explore them here.
The trainings last for one month in duration, providing the space to immerse yourself in
yoga, deepening focus and concentration while building a stronger